Life Lessons

The theme that keeps revealing itself to me seems to be “you can’t take it with you.” I like to think I’m the type of person who doesn’t collect a lot of “stuff” or get attached to things. I like a clean-looking, uncluttered home, so I tend to focus on a few key vintage pieces and try to stay out of Target. This week’s reminder is a good one for any of us, really. It ain’t going with you when you leave.

My baby news was revealed last week, and instead of upsizing our home like so many Americans might, we are downsizing; getting rid of some of our belongings, and moving the rooms around. The “office” must now fit in our master bedroom, what was the office will become a guest room, and the guest room a nursery. No big deal right? Except for the fact that we have to get rid of the “things” we didn’t anticipate having to be rid of.

On the chopping block via Etsy or Craigslist:

Parting with Pearsall
Parting with Pearsall

The “reading nook” will now serve as an office nook. I was sure I was going to rock MY estate sale with this piece, but instead, Mr. Pearsall will be leaving us earlier than anticipated. Adriaaaaaaaaan!

As for our ginormous office desk? It too, will be leaving, and this room will be a place for our visitors. With an Irishman as a husband, our visitors stay for weeks at a time – so having a room available is necessary.

001 006

Goodbye Masterful Mad Men-esque Desk. Boo.

And just a month or so ago, even my dog was reminding me it’s important not to become “attached” to the things of this world…by ripping a HOLE in the side of my favorite chair.

Moreddi Inc chair...pride of place in the living room....BEFORE PHOTO
Moreddi Inc chair…pride of place in the living room….BEFORE PHOTO
OMG!!!!!!!!! AFTER PHOTO
OMG!!!!!!!!! AFTER PHOTO
006 (4)
GUILTY AS HELL. Look at that face. I had to lock her out while I considered her fate. Bitch.

Good news is the dog is still with us. Despite my initial emotion, I decided against “gifting” her to another family who could put up with her antics. She is completely dysfunctional – but she is part of the family. Our “Black Pearl” reminded me that the chair is just that….JUST a CHAIR. I can have it fixed (someday) but I can’t take it with me. It’s in the garage until I can get it recovered, and all of our butts have survived unscathed, despite not being able to sit its loveliness.

I thought I’d learned this lesson, and could part with my “stuff” pretty easily, or at least hande it being damaged without losing my top. Turns out I can…sometimes you just need a little reminding about what’s important.  I hope my lesson reminds you that the kids and animals – while they’re a mess and they ruin your “stuff”…they are the real treasures.

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Open for business!

So this is a bit embarrassing. Remember how we moved from .com to .co? Well, that wasn’t working out so well….so MidCenturyObsession is back with WordPress.

There were some issues with the new, beautiful site – more specifically for subscribers that I will describe as less than satisfactory. So if you’ve been missing posts since…..oh…..OCTOBER of 2013….please, by all means, check out www.midcenturyobsession.co while you can. Otherwise going forward, I’ll be writing from here….and it’s good to be home, thanks for your patience and all of that.

Next week, I’ll be writing about trending shops for vintage wares. If you have a life or a job that doesn’t allow for thrifting and pickin’, or you live in an area that isn’t conducive to fabulous finds….look no more. I’ll tell you exactly where you can go. Stay tuned!

It’s Beginning to Look (and sound) a Lot Like Christmas

Indeed, Christmas time is here. I’ve been busy stocking my Etsy shop full of Mid-Century Modern goods and gifts in anticipation of the holiday season, and it has kept me from my blog.  Still, I managed to get the house decorated, the tree up, and I can report that Christmas came early again this year. My lovely mother sent me a hostess gift in anticipation of our family’s Christmas Eve celebration at my place. Seriously. How thoughtful is she? I could have kittens.

Color WheelI got one of these….. to go with this:

etsy 001

Now I don’t have to worry about cooking my butterball turkey via electrical fire. Yes, this color wheel is a reproduction, and probably a much safer device to use. To get one of your own, visit the Vermont Country Store.

As if that weren’t enough, my dear husband asked me what I wanted for Christmas about a month back…and he is famous for getting me exactly what I ask for. What can I say? I’m a blessed woman.

This year, I wanted the gift of music. We are a family of music-lovers as the neighbors are now probably aware.

Check out this 1960’s GE beauty:

 

001 004 003 002

It has a working record player that converts to 45’s, and it includes reel to reel. It even came complete with the original handbook. I love the sound that an old record player makes. Do I want that particular sound every day? Honestly, no. The best part about this gift is that it’s old AND new. I bought an $8 splitter that hooks into the back of the console and this blast from the past also adapts to my Ipod. Do you know who sounds better coming through those speakers via Ipod than record? Rosemary Clooney and the other “Women of Christmas.” Swoon. (You can find it at Target. I tried online. Impossible. But it is at Target.)

Christmas Belles

I cannot wait to have my Christmas tunes playing at Christmas Eve this year; I can already imagine laughter and music filling the air. The only thing better than receiving these gifts will be sharing them with the ones I love.

‘Tis the Season!

P.S….If you’re on the hunt for MCM gifts for friends and family, please favorite my shop on Etsy.com. I will be adding new items all this week and shipping out prior to the holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

Old Soul, Mad Woman

There are many times I think I may have been born in the wrong time. Or perhaps I’m an old soul come again to live in this day and age. (I can hear my dad’s voice not buying that claim with a simple: “bullsh*t.”) It’s TRUE dad! I love all things 50’s and 60’s….the modern furniture, the music, the fashion of the time. Maybe I’m the soul of one of Lucille Ball’s goofy relatives.

Exhibit A: I am never happier than when in an 50’s apron with my house filled with people who I get to serve. Add old-fashioned Christmas music, lovely food, some wine and voila – the perfect recipe.  Heavenly.

Yes. I use the bag. Mmmmm...so tender.
Yes. I use the bag. Mmmmm…so tender.

Think about it: The music was arguably better then. I can’t turn on the radio now without hearing about booty dropping or drunken club hopping. Perhaps it’s a sign that I’m getting older? I’m disgusted more often than not and opt for oldies or classic rock.  Should there have been drunken club hopping back then, as I’m sure there was, nobody was blatantly singing it’s praises. You kept your freak flag rolled up in the closet.

So my latest “mid-century obsession” that I’d like to share with readers is the book Mad Women by Jane Maas.  You can read about said wild happenings and experience life in the 60’s vicariously through the books’ author who actually lived it.  It’s “The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60’s and Beyond.” It’s a read I highly recommend if you’re any way interested in what life was like at that time. In addition, it explores what the field of advertising and marketing were like  – from a woman’s point of view. It gave me solace to know that I wasn’t born in a time where women were routinely subject to sexual harassment and sexism at every turn in the workplace. Bonus: I learned a little about advertising in the process.

Mad Women - Jane Maas
Quick and Juicy read. I couldn’t put it down. For those of you who are thrift-savvy, there are used copies available on Amazon.com starting at 9.99. Happy Reading!

Christmas Countdown

2 weeks in Ireland equals 2 weeks without blogging. Thank you for not deserting me, beloved readers. My family and I were busy celebrating new births, christenings, our son’s 4th birthday, his Granny’s 100th birthday, and traveling from Dublin’s east coast to the west coast of Westport, Ireland. A busy trip to say the least but a great one at that. The sights in Ireland are breathtaking and it’s people are just lovely.  If ever you have the opportunity to go; do it….but be advised that you may not want to return. Although our visit was mainly to spend time with friends and family, I did carve out some time to pop into a few antique shops and I wasn’t disappointed.

As our Irish vacay came to an end, we all developed pretty nasty colds. Our son developed croup, and his father and I caught our own grown-up versions. It’s safe to say that the mild California climate has officially sissy-fied us. I haven’t had an ear infection since I was nine. Ireland’s cold and wet weather chewed us up and spit us out. Our first few days back home were spent indoors, dropping cold meds like it’s hot.

One really annoying personality trait of mine that I will share with you is the complete inability to sit still. Even when I feel death may be knocking on my door, I simply cannot have the house a mess when the undertaker comes for me. Read a magazine? No honey….I think I’ll organize the cleaning supply closet instead!  I hate myself for it….I really do. Sick in more ways than one, I thought to myself there’s no better time to be stuck indoors for a few days. Take a hint from the department stores and prepare the house for Christmas! Let’s SKIP Thanksgiving altogether and go for the gold!!! As my husband laid in bed moaning to himself, I donned my pajamas for 2 days straight and broke out the fake Christmas trees. Thank God my son gets his crazy from me, because we had the best time dancing and popping the plastic branches in place. We were buried in our own snot and tissues, but whatever. We could represent Christmas spirit in the olympics, people!

Here are a few pics of one of our trees…..my favorite and newest addition: the mid-century modern aluminum Christmas tree. Easiest tree assembly ever.  I had seen these cool retro looking bulbs by Martha Stewart at Home Depot and decided to keep it simple. You rock me, Martha. Your monotone voice puts me right to sleep…..but you’re a tiger with the trees.

Taper Tree bought on the cheap in July. Oh how I’ve longed to open you up!
You can’t put lights on an aluminum tree unless you want a visit from Fire Marshall Bill. 10 points for the first person to get that reference.
It’s beginning to look a lot like an MCM Christmas!
Atomic tip of the day: Found this starburst ornament at Target for 2 bucks. Yeah, baby.
Martha shares her genius with the world – in the form of nicely coordinated and very retro-looking bulbs.
Bam. Now we just need a tree skirt so that no one can tell that it’s an artificial tree. Shhhh……
My Christmas gold medalist. You’d never know he was kickin’ the croup.

Now that we’re all duded up for Christmas, I can turn my neurosis to the Christmas dinner I’ll be hosting this year. More on that later. I’m sure I’ll find a way to neeeeed something MCM for the celebrations. Don’t tell the husband.

Long Island Medium Need Not Apply

I have to share a couple weird/freaky/twilight zone experiences that have occurred recently where I felt like my grandmother Faye (to whom this blog is dedicated) has sent me a little “hello” from the heavens. This blog is about my fixation with MCM and personal home make-over first and foremost, but if you haven’t noticed, it’s about life too. I don’t profess to know how this is possible, but it’s just bizarre how my grandmother continues to remind me that it’s all about her. When I started this blog, my mother laughingly said to me, “Wherever Nana is, she’s jealous.”

Faye was fabulous in every way. She worked hard, lived hard, partied hard. As a result of that, she was taken from us before her time.  Difficult as she could be, she was still “Nana” and my mother and I miss her so. She would tell you that the good looks in our family came from her. If someone excelled at any one subject, she would spin you a tale about how she practically invented whatever it was. She was a Leo to the extreme. Proud, brave, talented, vivacious….and a man-eater. All that said, she had inner demons that she battled her whole life-but you’d never know it with her beautiful and witty exterior: She was Fabulous Faye. Ask her how she was, and she’d throw her head back like an old film star and say “Just Maaarvy.”

A Young Fab Faye

Two weeks ago, I sat across the kitchen table from my father as a commercial for the psychic series, “The Long Island Medium” played in the background.  I said to him, “Do you think that’s for real?! Wouldn’t it be so cool to know what Nana had to say to us!?”  He shooed the comment away immediately, stating that the bible says not to mess with or “conjure up” spirits. I dropped it because no one can out-quote the bible like Dad. Also, he’s really scary.

Cut to last week when I stopped with my family in Lake Elsinore to check out a couple thrift shops.  While in Elsinore, we broke for some grub and directly after, decided to pop over to just one more shop before heading to San Juan Capistrano for the day. This particular shop was the least of my favorites; a little on the rough side, and I went in expecting to smell more than I found. That seemed to be the case until I got to the housewares section. There, all bundled up was a full set of my grandmother’s exact china, Bamboo Knight by Sango from Japan. My uncle had purchased the china as a gift for her while he was on leave from the USS Midway in Vietnam.  Totally mid-century. Totally gorgeous.  I’ve only ever seen it one other place: my mom’s house. The whole set was for a steal. I thought, how cool is that to find Nana’s china in this little place!?!? Cool coincidence, but no big deal, right?

Bamboo Knight by Sango

Then this week, I decided to become an Etsy shop owner so I can share my finds with the world – at great prices. I haven’t launched yet, but in my research and preparation to do so, I was scouring the internet for comparables of one ugly metal mailbox on a piece of driftwood.  I picked one up at the last estate sale I’d gone to, secretly wondering why people buy this crap.  Alas, I concluded, “what the hell, I’ll give it a whirl. I don’t like it, but someone will!” I now understand it would be of the “Jere Era.” Previous to that discovery, I was laboriously searching Ebay and Etsy…”brass metal mailbox sculpture” “metal mailbox sculpture on driftwood” and for some reason, NOTHING was coming up. Etsy’s search engine was giving me a “no results found” message. Even today, I can do the same thing and find two or three like-items using the same exact terms. However, on this particular day, it was not happening. I just knew I’d seen one before! In my desperation to research fair pricing and get my hideous mailbox posted, I decided to broaden the search by entering a simple “metal mailbox.” In the 100 results I got, everything BUT what I was looking for came up: I panned down the computer screen irritated at this point, seeing mailboxes of all kinds, mailbox numbers, house numbers, pictures of mailboxes…..then BAM, one single tiny golden icon caught my eye like a beacon of brass light. I immediately clicked on it, and it was exactly what I was looking for. It was priced at $12 plus shipping. I was a bit disappointed from a selling standpoint then something else caught my eye: the name “Faye” in the product description. I noticed there were more pictures to view and clicked on the one with the signature “Faye ’76.” My heart dropped as I looked at the signature. It was MY Nana’s signature. MY Faye. I showed my husband who rolled his eyes at me and lovingly said, “there’s no way.” I thought to myself, “He’s right…no way, too unlikely. Why would she sign it? She didn’t make it or anything.”

Said Sad Ugly Mailbox – soon for sale
Baby Brass Beacon
SERIOUSLY!?!?!?

Why was it the only brass mailbox I could find, though? I immediately called my mother who told me that Nana very well could have made it. She hadn’t remembered seeing it, but that Nana considered herself an artisan. Besides all her other positive attributes, she was very artistic. In previous years, at rehab stints she would do art projects and sometimes bring them home. And the year 1976? She would have been in rehab at that time. Still critical of my own foolish hope, I went back and looked up where the Etsy shop owner was located: Monterrey, California. Planted just south of the San Francisco and San Mateo areas where my grandmother lived much of her life. Of course, I immediately bought it. Is there any question that I had to have it? I’m giving it to my mother as a gift. I can attest to the fact that it is an amateur sculpture evidenced by glue spots and imperfections. It’s hers. I just know it is. Mom’s since viewed the signature and can’t swear on it, but she says it’s a definite possibility.  I can’t guarantee it’s hers, but it is. I peed a little when I saw the signature, alright? It’s hers. You know what, though? It doesn’t matter either way. One thing that is absolutely certain, is someone somewhere knows how much she is missed….and we’re being blessed by discovering little pieces of her every now and then – even after she’s left this world.

Happy Place Found

One of the things on my “bucket list” to accomplish/conquer in life is refinishing wood furniture. It should be said one of my favorite places to be is the Home Depot. I have been known to ask for power tools for Christmas. No…I do not have testicles in case you were wondering – but I am working on a really cool beard.  I just happen to love working with my hands. Funny enough that my preoccupation with mid-century furniture has allowed me the opportunity to explore a bit of a sidebar hobby.

I recently moved into a new home that with it, came a wooden cabinet in the garage. This cabinet is probably only 20 years old – about as old as the house…and had seen better days. I figured what better piece of furniture to practice on than something that will stay in the garage? If I totally botch it up, who will know? That’s right, no one! As for my knowledge of refreshing wood, it was extremely limited. I pulled my information and inspiration directly from one of the funniest blogs I’ve read: The Brick House by Morgan Satterfield

http://www.the-brick-house.com/2010/09/refreshing-vintage-wood/

So I used exactly what Morgan suggested one use to re-beautify wood:

Murphy Oil Soap, Watco Teak Oil, Howard Feed-N-Wax, Lint-Free Rags and Fine Sandpaper.

I was very happy with the results:

Cabinet De Garage
Yucky Water Marks de el Cabinet de Garage
Before Sanding
Sanded Down Cabinet-Go with the grain!

Post sanding followed by a bath in Murphy Oil Soap, it was on to the teak oil.

The wonders of Watco

Word of warning re: Watco Teak Oil. Make sure your location is well ventilated. I probably should have had a fan on in the garage. I was convinced that I actually was super woman after giving that cabinet a sensual oil massage.

No more water marks
Post Howard Feed -N- Wax Glow

As for the results, like I said, I was quite pleased. I did manage to get the water rings off of the top of the cabinet and paint off the side, however, the black marks weren’t effected. Regardless, because the wood has been “fed” it’s looking a lot sexier to me. There was at one point where I was in the garage sanding that sucker down, listening to music and I thought – I could do this all day long! At long last, I’ve found my happy place!  Despite finding another potentially enjoyable and rewarding hobby, refreshing wood wasn’t a life-altering experience. That being said, I do feel more confident now moving on to furniture I find in my thrifting and estate sale-ing travels. Perhaps I can start a small business bringing illustrious MCM wood furniture to the world! I think I’d be pretty happy with that too.

I see dead people…

http://youtu.be/0YppxEYkqTU

Let’s talk Estate Sales! Tasteless, tacky, but really true: you can’t take it with you, so I’m going to buy it!

Before you write me off as completely insensitive…stay with me for a second. I have “dead people” in my life too. My blog is dedicated to my late grandmother. We’ll call her Nana. In my very first post, I alluded to the fact that her personal life was a bit messy….and that it affected her fabulous furniture, some of which I now own. And I’ll tell you….I’m torn. The bedroom suite that started it all – my obsession with Mid-Century – it’s actually damaged by the hand of my grandfather whom I’ve never met; during a drunken rage. Fasten your seatbelts for a tale of drama, people! My mom says he took his pocket knife and sliced giant X’s in Nana’s velvet couch as well as lines down the front facing of the bedroom suite because he knew that was the way to get to her. The neighbors called the police because of a glow coming from the inside of the house. It was my grandmother’s entire wardrobe. Furs, gowns and sequins were all in the process of being incinerated in the fireplace. I don’t have a picture of the fire or the couch sliced with X’s, but I do have an aftermath picture of the kitchen and I know what you’re thinking: Nice stool, right? You know the ones with the little step stand? Gosh, they really don’t make things like they used to.

Admit it, MCM isn’t just an obsession, it’s a syndrome that we share.

As for the credenza, I’ve thought about refinishing it myself, or having it re-finished. You know what? I don’t think I have the heart to.  Because every time I see the lines in that beautiful credenza, I’m reminded of how much my grandmother endured, and how she came out on the other end a stronger person. Sure, there’s a couple cigarette burns in the top of the end tables. So what? Each time my eye is drawn to it, I can picture her holding a Belair between her those long fingers and her always perfectly manicured nails. I know she’d love to know how much I value the things that she did and that I embrace the beauty, warts and all. And that’s the reason why I love estate sales. I like to think that every piece that I acquire has a story and perhaps a very interesting dead person behind it. I know that somebody’s beloved something will live on in my home and hopefully someday grace the home of my son, or someone else who will appreciate it for what it is: Beautifully crafted things bought, sold or traded through time creating a story all their own.